Slavery Database Skills/Duties

Slavery Database Skills/Duties

An indispensible position on the plantation, blacksmiths no only shod horses but made repairs to the sugar mill and other equipment. Blacksmiths trained at a very young age, apprenticing for a number of years before working independently. Slave owners often hired out their blacksmiths during quite times as a way of making additional money off their work. 

Always a man and considered a skilled craftsman, Bricklayers often learned their trade at an early age from other slaves. In addition to understanding mortar, they understood the brickmaking process, temperature, composite and firing times, and often oversaw groups of slaves who would make bricks onsite. Bricklayers were also expected to do much of the plaster work around the plantation.

Always a man, carpenters handled general repairs and construction work on the plantation.

A man or woman, a cart driver worked with animals - generally mules and oxen - and operated ploughs as well as drove carts during the grinding season. In addition to driving or ploughing, an enslaved teamster was expected to care for the animals as well.

Both enslaved men and women, cooks were often designated as either "cook" or "cook for the negroes." Those with the first designation prepared meals for the slave owner`s family, guests and often other domestics, while a "cook for the negroes" prepared large communal meals--generally breakfast and lunch.

Always a man, a cooper made the barrels and other bound containers for the plantation.

Men and women, it was the common term for a house slave, referring to those who worked inside the house and often had specific etiquette training. The Romans referred to their Domestics as "Servants" as opposed to Field Slaves, whom they referred to as "The Negroes."

Referred to in French documents as Le Commandeur, a Driver was an enslaved man who worked beneath the Owner and/or Overseer, and supervised field slaves. Depending on the plantation, a Driver was often the person who physically punished slaves by whipping, etc.

Also called a Field Slave in later documents, these were the jobs of both men and women. Occupying the lowest status on the plantation, laborers performed the most grueling tasks and lived in the worst conditions, even as enslaved men were often appraised the highest of all slaves on the plantation.

Always a man, an enslaved gardener tended to the decorative and kitchen gardens around the main house.

Always a woman, Hairdressers almost always had additional duties, such as being a Seamstress. Hairdressers assisted the master`s wife and daughters in both washing and coiffing their hair. Some hairdressers earned some money by freelancing their skills to other Creole woman, but this was rare since it required permission from their own mistress.

Always a man, an ostler cared for the horses, and could act as carriage driver as well.

An enslaved man who spent the majority of his time cutting and trimming lumber for construction projects. The title refers to a specific way of trimming the logs by perching it on a trestle. It is similar to the English "pit-sawing."

Always a woman, seamstresses created functional items (bedding, curtains) for the master`s family, as well as made repairs to store bought clothes, etc.

Usually a man, a shoemaker was generally not a full time job. However, a his skill as a shoemaker meant that an enslaved man would be asked to repair bridals, harnesses, and the plethora of leather goods used in plantation operation.

An enslaved woman with medical knowledge, Sick Nurses blended traditional African medicine with what they were taught by visiting doctors in their care of the enslaved community.

Teamster is someone who drives a team of oxen, horses, mules, or other groups of animals. They might also aid in guiding the plow.

Laborer, a term used to encompase a large number of varied duties. A main component of their duties was making sure the irragation and drainage canals for the sugarcane crop were clear. 

Always female, they cleaned linens and clothes for the master`s family. Enslaved Laundresses frequently made their own soap using lye, which left them with recurring chemical burns.